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Granny's brooch

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Fine Jewelry5607 of 6527Antique Micro Mosaic Eutruscan style locket pendantcar metal ring box
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Posted 5 years ago


(7 items)

This brooch was my grandmother's. I don't know when she got it or where but she traveled widely in Europe and South America. I don't know what the picture is painted on but the detail is beautiful. I feel like I've seen this portrait before - in a larger version - but I can't place it. Can anyone help me learn more about it. Thanks.

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  1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    St Fabiola is the woman and is one of the most copied images of the twentieth century. It was painted by Jean-Jacques Henner in 1885 but disappeared in 1912.
    Check out Henner's site here:
    If there was a saint for divorcés & divorcées I suppose it would be her.
    There was interesting 'Warhol-esque' exhibition in 2009 at the National Portrait Gallery in London by the Belgian artist Francis Alys:
  2. Rosemarie, 5 years ago
    Vetraio - thank you so much for the information! No wonder the portrait looked familiar! It's ironic that my grandmother loved it so much as she was happily married (for about 55 years) until her death in 1980.
    Do you know if there is an image of the actual Henner portrait somewhere?
  3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    No, it was actually lost in 1912.

    I found this article here:

    The artist Francis Alÿs (b. Belgium 1959) appears to have a fascination, an obsession about Saint Fabiola.

    The National Portrait Gallery in London has an exhibition called “Fabiola”: an installation of hundreds of portraits of a fourth-century Christian saint.

    These portraits, including paintings,embroidery and miniatures, are all versions of the same nineteenth-century original of Fabiola by the French nineteenth-century painter, Jean-Jacques Henner, and were gathered by the artist from flea markets, antique shops, and private collections.

    Jean-Jacques Henner's definitive portrait of Fabiola (1885) is the prototype for all of the works on display. Henner's depiction of Fabiola, coinciding with a Catholic revival sweeping Western Europe, became so widely admired that both his portrait and Fabiola herself gained renown.

    The Henner portrait was painted in 1885 but was lost in 1912.

    In the exhibition each artist projects their own idea of what a truly good woman looks like. All show Fabiola as a person of their own time. In the Fifties and Sixties, for example, Fabiola is wearing more make-up than a Hollywood starlet. Some artists show her as mature, others as a young girl; in some she is smiling, in others her brows are slightly furrowed. There are as many different Fabiolas in this show as there are artists.

    The nineteenth century craze with Fabiola seems to have started with the publication in 1854 by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman of his novel, Fabiola or, the Church of the Catacombs.

    Fabiola was a counter-blast to the vigorously anti-Catholic book Hypatia (1853) by Charles Kingsley.

    The story is set in Rome in the early 4th century AD, during the time of the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Saint Fabiola was a Roman matron of rank of the company of noble Roman women who, under the influence of the Church father St. Jerome, gave up all earthly pleasures and devoted themselves to the practice of Christian asceticism and to charitable work. Fabiola continued her usual personal labours in aid of the poor and sick until her death on 27 December of 399 or 400.

    The novel also weaves a number of martyrdom accounts and legends of real-life Christian saints into the story. These include Saint Agnes, Saint Sebastian, Saint Pancras (Pancratius), Saint Cassian (Cassianus), Saint Emerentiana, and Saint Tarcisius

    But the fascination with the story of Fabiola did not stop with the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, two major films were based on Wiseman`s novel. There was one made in Italy in 1917. The second, again made in Italy, was a major production made in 1949.

    It was released in the United States under the name “Fabiola”. For some reason, it was released in 1951 in the United Kingdom under the name “The Fighting Gladiator”.
  4. flowerrose, 5 years ago
    I have a potrait of Fabiola on my items here. If you click on my name you can see it. It was my grandparents also and it's now in my lounge. I was so happy when it was identified for me also. Have a look :-)
  5. flowerrose, 5 years ago

    Hopefully this link works!

    vetraio50: "the fighting gladiator" very interesting. I guess being the patron saint of Battered Women that's what you'd be up against! That is a crying shame that the original was lost - I wonder if it's in the Vatican vaults somewhere along with my Original Byzantine icon also listed here - of which I have a lithograph.

  6. Rosemarie, 5 years ago
    The link works and honestly I think that's why the portrait seemed familiar to me. I've had the pin for many years but I think subconsciously your show and tell rang a bell and that's what made me pull out the brooch. Many thanks!!
  7. flowerrose, 5 years ago
    Hi rosemarie - yay I'm glad it rang a bell :-)
    Yay we both have 'Rose' in our names and items with Fabiola in them.
    Very cool.

    Fabiola must be watching over us both :-)
  8. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Hi, flowerroesmaries! I'd missed your portrait FW but picked up on the brooch. Apologies! My mum had done a petit point version of Fabiola forty years ago and it still hangs in the wall at home today. I passed it some many times it became an image you know but ignore but of familiarity. Perhaps it was the mount on the brooch tat re-focused the eye.
  9. Rosemarie, 5 years ago
    Flowerrose - I now have to go through your other items and see what else we have in common!!

    Vetraio - is your expertise limited to art or do you know anything about jewelry? I'd love to figure out where my grandmother got this piece.
  10. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Hi Rosemarie ! Whatare the letters on the back of the brooch? Silver marks?
  11. Rosemarie, 5 years ago
    I think so - it's 800 on the back of the oval and also on the filigree.
  12. Rosemarie, 5 years ago
    However, it really doesn't seem to tarnish.
  13. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Tarnish? Not when it's in a case. It will be closed most of the time. Leave it out and it will tarnish for sure.
    "The 800 stands for 800 grade silver or 800 parts of silver per 1000 parts. This standard of silver has been heavily throughout Europe including France, Belgium and Germany for many years. Any vintage jewellery stamped 800 may well be European in origin although other factors may indicate an Eastern or Asian origin . It is most unlikely that an 800 grade silver piece is British in origin as this grade of silver was not recognised until 1999."

  14. flowerrose, 5 years ago
    Hi Rosemarieflower :-) I am glad my picture made you haul out your granny's brooch and remind you of Fabiola.

    vetraio50 - you a wealth of information!
  15. Rosemarie, 5 years ago
    So vetraio, do you think you can put a time frame on the brooch? Do you think it's safe to say it's European?
    flowerrose - I'm glad you reminded me of Fabiola, too. I actually wore her at one point in my life - now I'm going to start again!!
  16. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Time frames are difficult with just an 800 mark. The mechanism of the pin would narrow it down, the style is not necessarily particular to a twentieth century period.
  17. Agram.m Agram.m, 5 years ago
    Rosemarie, this brooch resemble mine (see link: and perhaps you can read some comment. But mine is enamel and yours is painted probably on thin ivory as so often this time period.

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